Presbyterian Church in US votes towards recognising gay marriage

Rainbow flag above the entrance to a Presbyterian church

In a historic move, leaders of the Presbyterian Church in the US have voted towards recognising gay marriage.

On Thursday, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), passed an amendment to change the description of marriage in its constitution from a relationship between “a man and a woman” to that between “two people.”

This amendment will only become church law when approved by a majority of the church’s 172 presbyteries, said the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). At that time, all same-sex couples will be able to marry in their home congregations.

The General Assembly also passed an amendment now allowing Presbyterian clergy to perform marriages in the 19 American states where marriage is legal.

“Today really affirmed my faith as a Christian, that God has been calling us to affirm marriages of same-sex couples,” commented Alex McNeilll, Executive Director of More Light Presbyterians, a group promoting the full inclusion of LGBT people in the church.

“Today, the church has reminded me that I am loved by God and claimed by this denomination. I am thankful for our process that allows for debate and discernment, and I am extraordinarily grateful that the Holy Spirit came to this room today. There are many people that didn’t know how to vote, and Spirit spoke to them, through commissioners and through prayer,” he said.

While the church has less than two million members in the US, the symbolic importance of its new policy is significant.

“This is a giant step forward for the PCUSA Church and for people of faith everywhere,” said Sharon Groves, Director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program.

“Presbyterian LGBT couples are now one step closer to being able to get married in the church of their choice. Perhaps even more significantly, young people and their families can go into a Presbyterian church and know that their denomination has not turned a blind eye to them but has instead taken a giant step toward becoming a more loving and more welcoming place for all people to worship,” she added.

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